American travelers toChina beware: you might not be able to come back home. The US State Department has just issued a travel advisory, cautioning Americans about traveling to China. The advisory was prompted by new concerns that China may impose arbitrary exit bans, preventing Americans from leaving China. US-Chinese citizens, or Americans of Chinese heritage are thought to be particularly at risk.
According to the State Department’s warning, China uses these exit bans to coerce US citizens to “participate in Chinese government investigations, to lure individuals back to China from abroad, and to aid Chinese authorities in resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties.” Americans generally only learn about the exit ban when they attempt to leave China, are rarely informed of how long the ban will last, and are deprived of basic rights. “US citizens may be detained without access to US consular services,” says the State Department, “or information about their alleged crime. US citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to ‘state security.’”
While the travel advisory is only a level two, meaning travelers should “exercise increased caution” — a level three urges Americans to reconsider travel, and a level four advises against traveling completely — extra care should be taken if you’re thinking of visiting China.